Android as an open platform is continuing to spread its wings far and wide and keeping sure that the smartphone is en route to becoming the standard. By 2015, it may be time to drop the “smart” and just call them phones.
We have already seen own-brand handsets and cheaper models particularly from the likes of Chinese manufacturers ZTE and Huawei. TechEye has previously reported that ZTE, with its affordable mobile phones and aggressive strategy for going global, is on the way to world domination. Juniper Research agrees: “Pricing of smartphones will come down to $80 by 2015,” analyst Anthony Cox says. With the internet widely regarded as not just a privilege but a right, it makes sense: mobile browsing in emerging markets can be sold on the cheap.
It could be suggested, as Cox does, that there’s a problem in that these manufacturers don’t have strong content strategies “like Nokia has”. But Ovi is doomed and it has not got Nokia anywhere, now pinning its hopes on Meego – the beauty of Android is that it is easily adopted and a roll-out is encouraged by Google which wants to make sure its OS is king. Everything is ready made.
Windows could have been competition in the incredibly important segment but Microsoft decided to copy the closed Apple model instead.
According to Juniper Research, by 2015 we’ll see over 185 million “entry-level” smartphones. They will be given a kick start by operators releasing own-brand phones, such as the Orange Boston, which are designed to tie consumers into their own networks. Strong rivalry in the space will keep pricing competitive while the relationship on supply chains, by chip manufacturers, panel outfits and so on, will ensure a steady stream.
While a slew of handsets have appeared from Chinese big players ZTE and Huawei, who both are also at the front of LTE and WiMax roll-out with strong contracts established, globally, every week, other manufacturers in high growth markets are set to capitalise. Look especially to China and India, Juniper suggests. The likes of Micromax will be launching their own Android phones specifically targeted at local markets.
All you need to do is look at recent Spectrum battles – most obviously in India – to see how strong and important mobile internet is, both as a money maker and as a service to people.
Then there are the rapidly growing markets in progressive African countries, where telcos are battling for space to prepare for a future boom, where affordable mobile internet is key. Open source is getting the world online, at reasonable prices, and at the moment there’s no contest: For manufacturers and “entry level” handsets, Android is the way forward.